Chewing On the Words of Jesus

We have the opportunity to read labels before we purchase what we eat. We have the freedom to eat things that will bring health and energy to our bodies or just give us a quick satisfaction with no lasting food value. What is Jesus saying as he talks about this true food and true drink that brings eternal life? Are we any more ready than the Jews in the synagogue to chew on this truth that he is offering? Once again we are given the opportunity to use our free will to choose. Will you ingest the reality of Jesus and his words into your daily life and allow it to nourish and satisfy you?

John 6:52-59 (ESV)
 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

John 6:52-59TMG
At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”  But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.” He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this teaching? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

 

Remembering Times of Not Enough

Many of us remember this miraculous story of bread and fish multiplied for the multitudes. We can join the crowd on the mountainside with Jesus and feel the intensity of the collective physical and spiritual hunger. What is Jesus wanting to embody to his disciples and followers on this day? With the season of Passover hovering about them, it seems Jesus is helping each one remember those days in Egypt when "not enough" reigned:
- not enough bricks
- not enough rest
- not enough food
- not enough time
- not enough worship
- not enough peace
- not enough grace
- not enough hope
- not enough love

Perhaps they could feel "not enough" in their bellies again. The spaciousness of the mountainside, the expansiveness of the sea, the tenderness of the grass and the responsiveness to the hunger vividly contrasts with the narrowness of Pharaoh's Egypt.
Eat the "broken bread" afresh this day. Taste God's goodness. Notice what satisfies your hunger.

John 6:1-15 (NIV)
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

Prepare to Receive

The Feast Days celebrated by the Hebrew people are of great significance. Each one, including the weekly Sabbath, involve careful and intentional preparation. The feasts themselves encompass all the senses - sight, sound, touch, smell and taste - which in turn embed deep memories within the body, mind and spirit of the participants. Yahweh has prepared us to remember. We are to remember that which we have received.

Jesus, our Rabbi, takes great care to instruct his disciples on the preparation of his last Passover Feast with them. What is the purpose of these preparations? Is there something more that he wants to give them? How might this text guide us in our own preparation to receive from Jesus? Are we willing to be blessed - to bend the knee to receive?

Mark 14:12-26 NLT
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”
13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there.
17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.”
19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?”
20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.”
23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with them for a while. Ask Jesus, is there more that Jesus says to you?

Place yourself in the story today. Where do you find yourself? Have a conversation with Jesus in that context. What do you say to him? What does he say to you?